Sanitation and hygiene
An investment that can save lives and boost socio-economic growth
Myanmar requires massive investment in sanitation and hygiene facilities to meet its targets in this area under the global Sustainable Development Goals (2030).
Although rural areas lag behind, urban areas are also struggling to meet the need for sanitation as more people migrate to cities.
Myanmar is one of a few countries in the ASEAN where the number of city-dwellers that that do not have access to improved water sources has increased over the past two decades.
Data is limited, but research suggests that 50 per cent of schools nationwide and more than 50 per cent of health facilities have severe gaps in water, sanitation and hygiene services.
25 per cent of children (over 4 million) live in households that do not use improved toilet facilities.
Insufficient sanitation is hampering Myanmar’s effort to reduce child and maternal mortality and illnesses such as diarrhoea that contribute to child stunting, which affects 32 per cent of children in rural areas and 20 per cent in urban areas. Limited knowledge and practice of optimum hygiene behaviour is also hampering communities’ efforts to protect themselves, data shows.
Challenges to implementing improved water supplies in different areas of Myanmar include physical and geographic constraints such as water salinity, arsenic, and a low water table. At the national response systems level, lack of planning for effective operation and maintenance of built facilities, and the lack of fair tariff models in community-managed supply systems, are other bottlenecks to improved facilities reaching the bulk of the population. In addition, enhanced sharing of research and knowledge on effective solutions in different contexts is needed in order to ensure sustainable improvements.
UNICEF supports the Government and local partners to implement Myanmar’s WASH strategy for rural areas, schools, health facilities and emergencies.
We also support the Government to improve data and monitoring that can enhance the scaled-up investments in the WASH sector that are needed to meet national and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) social and economic growth targets over the coming years.
Our relationships with key Government departments ensures the needs of the especially vulnerable — children, women and those with disabilities — are at the forefront of national WASH planning and initiatives on the ground.
We foster strong partnerships to ensure that initiatives in other key sectors such as education, nutrition and maternal and child health are supported by the necessary arrangements for WASH. Five core states and regions and three target areas are being prioritized in future interventions, based on child deprivation indices.
We are working with partners and the Government to find innovative technological solutions, implement model village approaches that can be replicated at scale, and build knowledge and research that can help deliver solutions to vulnerable communities in areas of the country that are particularly challenging.